16

No he did not! The process can be traced back at least to Thomas Carlyle, who in Sartor Resartus (1833–34) publishes a summary and a critique, à la Borges, of the fictional book Clothes, Their Origin and Influence. Let's note that Thomas Carlyle pushed it even further than Borges, publishing the review in a magazine with no mention of its fictional nature! ...


12

Yep. Stevenson writes in his A Chapter on Dreams, which you can see a book scan at that link, and a text version at Project Gutenburg: Well, as regards the dreamer, I can answer that, for he is no less a person than myself;—as I might have told you from the beginning, only that the critics murmur over my consistent egotism;—and as I am positively forced to ...


11

You are bringing the first quote a little out of context: The idealists argue that the hexagonal rooms are a necessary from of absolute space or, at least, of our intuition of space. They reason that a triangular or pentagonal room is inconceivable. (The mystics claim that their ecstasy reveals to them a circular chamber containing a great circular book, ...


10

Like many of Borges's tales, The Library of Babel is meant more as a thought experiment than a realistic story. Don't overthink it. There's no mention anywhere in the story of any of various practicalities of life: where the librarians get food and how they eat how the plumbing for the toilets is operated and maintained how the librarian population is ...


10

A central concern of The Library of Babel -- and particularly this section of it -- is the search for order and meaning within a chaotic world. In this passage, Borges introduces the Purifiers; those who, in their pursuit of truth and meaning, destroy anything they consider of no value: Others, inversely, believed that it was fundamental to eliminate ...


9

Remember that the Library is infinite and complete: the Library is "total" - perfect, complete, and whole - and that its bookshelves contain all possible combinations of the twenty-two orthographic symbols (a number which, though unimaginably vast, is not infinite) - that is, all that is able to be expressed, in every language. Note the phrase "in every ...


8

Hexagons are a natural pattern found in various orderly structures in nature: for example, the cells of a beehive, or the columns of the Giant's Causeway. By making his Library a hexagonal tessellation, Borges could be attempting to evoke thoughts of the most perfect and ordered natural phenomena. One geometric reason for the popularity of hexagons is that ...


8

There are several options -- which makes sense, as this is a story which explores the idea of infinity. The Library is spherical Immediately following the line "I say that the Library is unending", the narrator says: Let it suffice now for me to repeat the classic dictum: The Library is a sphere whose exact center is any one of its hexagons and whose ...


7

The Library of Babel cannot be taken as plausible, realistic worldbuilding. "How can real-world languages exist" is not going to have more of an answer than "How does an immense number of bound books exist," or "How can they know what bread or pyramids are, when they can't possibly have either." There is excellent reason for Borges to use real languages, but ...


7

Note that has outlined by Beastly Gerbil, the protagonist is living through events based on Borges's on life: in his novel, the protagonist hits a recently painted door jamb, while in his autobiography, Borges hits a freshly painted open casement window. The reference to fresh paint seems to make no doubt of the biographical nature of the event. The many ...


7

While this does not answer the significance of the entire book, it focuses on a few key points. The story is actually partially autobiographical. In his early life, Borges worked in a library. In the year 1938, the same year his father died, he bumped his head on a window and nearly died of septicemia - blood poisoning. 'The south' was published in 1953, ...


5

Thank you for asking this question! (Not least because I am itinerant and my Borges is all in boxes, but your question led me to this collected stories of Borges in pdf, which will provide ℵ value on any mobile device.) Borges was not only profound, he intended his stories to be enigmas. Any analysis I give can only be partial, and must be regarded as ...


4

It turns out Recabarren was a political figure in Chile who was imprisoned for 8 months: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Emilio_Recabarren As you will recall, the setting of the story is in Latin America. The loss of voice could be a reference to being silenced politically, and connected to the black guitarist as a symbol of the oppressed classes, ...


3

It's periodic. This is directly answered in the text, at the very end of the story: I have just written the word "infinite". I have not included that adjective out of mere rhetorical habit; I hereby state that it is not illogical to think that the world is infinite. Those who believe it to have limits hypothesise that in some remote place or places the ...


3

You don't eat in the library. You'd get the books messy. The library here is intended to evoke a university library, where scholars toil away their lives searching for some snippet of information. Libraries have bathrooms, and places for catnaps, but not real sleeping facilities, and certainly not places to eat. You go home for that. The question is, why ...


3

In his essay on Pascal's sphere, which relates to several of the themes of "The Library Of Babel", Borges also notes the fixation certain mystics had on picturing God as an infinite sphere whose circumference is nowhere and center, everywhere. Thus, Borges is probably continuing his train of thought on this subject in that essay by making the book that ...


3

Smerdis was a magian. For example, the book Darius the Great by Jacob Abbott (freely available online e.g. here and here) has a chapter entitled "Smerdis the Magian", and the journal article Arno Poebel, "The Duration of the Reign of Smerdis, the Magian, and the Reigns of Nebuchadnezzar III and Nebuchadnezzar IV", The American Journal of Semitic Languages ...


3

Every time I read the story I find new meaning, and I suspect I will always feel as thought I am missing more than I am recognizing (the magic of Borges!) Without going into it too deeply: Perception is a major factor in the story. The imaginary line of the Rividavia that marks the South. Dahlmann's perception of himself as two people, one travelling ...


2

It is Hebrew. Hebrew letters have Hebrew names, written in Hebrew. Our transliteration into Latin alphabet is a convention and those can change, different authors may use different conventions for different reasons. The same word can be spelt differently in academic paper, high school textbook or online forum.


2

Sartor Resartus was written in 1836. There are examples of earlier imaginaries dating back to John Donne and Rabelais. Donne's The Courtier's Library (1650), is a catalogue of 34 apocryphal works modeled after Rabelais' Library of St Victor, Pantagruel, II, vii (~1532). Together, these two references move the origin of the OPs query back three centuries. ...


1

From a strictly geometrical perspective, any side of a hexagon can only connect to another single hexagon: Tiling patterns have a very ancient history, and Borges was no doubt drawing on this. The point of hexagons is that they pack perfectly, with no spaces in between. Had Borges wanted multiple pathways between rooms, he certainly would have picked ...


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